The Essence of Suntory Whisky 2018

The Essence of Suntory Whisky 2018

Over the past 5-6 years I have based very few reviews on tasting a whisky at a venue; i.e. bar, festival, distillery etc. as I much prefer to review whiskies at home in peace and quiet. Sure I have written articles about bars, festivals and distilleries and have included mention of whiskies tasted there, but that’s different.

Today I will make an exception though, as the whiskies I am reviewing here are only available in bars in Japan. I have now tasted the three whiskies that make up the first The Essence of Suntory Whisky series which was released in 2018. This series focused on blending by showing different styles produced by Suntory.

I tasted these whiskies and the 2019 Series at two fabulous Tokyo whisky bars; Bar Moonshine near Shimbashi Station, and Shot Bar Zoetrope near Shinjuku Station.

Below you will find peated malt from Yamazaki Distillery, old grain from Chita Distillery and rye type whisky from Hakushu Distillery.

Yamazaki Distillery Peated Malt 2005/2018, 12 YO, 49 %


Nose: Soft and sweet wood smoke. Vanilla and lots of it. Relatively shy and mild nose.

Taste: Rich and full-bodied. Ashes and white pepper (soft). Ginger. Quite sweet on the palate. More black pepper with time.

Finish: Medium to long finish. Soft and very comfortable landing. Velvety with notes of ginger and apples. Hints of smoky chocolate.

Comment: Now why can’t we have this more readily available?

Score 87/100

Chita Distillery Wine Cask 4 Year Finish 2001/2018, 16 YO, 49 %


Nose: Very light on first approach. Fruit drops, vanilla and grape juice. With time strawberries.

Taste: Medium body and sweetness. Slight bitter edge - I’m thinking of bitter oranges. Oaky flavours and bitter marzipan. Apples and plum juice.

Finish: Medium to long finish. More towards caramel chocolate and cinnamon now. Even less sweet.

Comment: Again a bit unusual, but oozes of quality.

Score 87/100

Hakushu Distillery Rye Type 2012/2018, 4 YO, 57 %


Note that is states “rye type” and not rye on the label. The reason being that it does not contain the minimum of 51 % rye in the mash bill. Not that such rules apply in Japan, but most Japanese distilleries follow the standard regulations for single malt, rye and bourbon.

Apparently the mash bill used here is 30 % rye, more than 50 % corn, and some barley.

Nose: Sweet and heavy on the nose. Lots of vanilla here. Warm with rich notes of maple syrup, caramel, cinnamon, and pepper. This is pure quality.

Taste: Rich and full-bodied. Warm with notes of cinnamon, ginger, nuts, and marzipan. Hints of cigar and maple syrup. Soooo rich.

Finish: Medium long finish. No further development, but that is more than OK. Perhaps a little green towards the end?

Comment: Just love it! Complete surprise!

Score 90/100

- Thomas

Nordic Whisky #222 - High Coast Archipelago Baltic Sea 2019

Nordic Whisky #222 - High Coast Archipelago Baltic Sea 2019

Nordic Whisky #221 - Box Whisky The Festival 2018

Nordic Whisky #221 - Box Whisky The Festival 2018